Foster CARE

Putting Care back into Foster Care

Most stories and social media posts concerning #FosterCare gravitate to the dark side- the mishandled foster care system, the #political promises, stories of #exploitation, and caregivers spending funds on themselves while children barely have needs met.

We hear of children going from place to place with a garbage bag holding their belongings, #abuse by other kids and parents, of older teens running away, overdosing, or spending their adult lives in #prison.

There is a very real dark side to foster care, but there’s also a bright side, a side where darkness has been interrupted and children have discovered that it’s the little things that pop up each day that bring happiness.

My husband and I have our own personal stories of struggles and experiences that led us to help children in #crisis. Whether through school programs, assisting teenagers going through drug and alcohol rehab, #youth #ministry, or #teaching and supervising at a group home, we have seen the tears, tantrums, and questions that always surround children who don’t understand why no one wants them.

We have held onto a child that was brought back to the group home because the adoptive family decided the child wasn’t what they expected, so they returned him like a puppy at an #adoption center. We have sat with kids all night who ask why families never want to spend time with them, why their parents never call, and question what is wrong with them and why they are unworthy of #love.

Yes, this is #reality. This happens daily, and it’s a side that is often taken and exploited in the media.

Some of those days, though, are different. Some of those days are filled with laughter, sharing, and tears of #joy. These are the days that you don’t often hear about. These are the days that people claim are staged for publicity, the days that no one believes exists, because how could a child with no family be happy?

I’ll tell you how…

These children find joy in the little things, in a hug, or in someone asking them if they want two pancakes or three. They crave #love so badly that they are willing to hold onto the smallest act of kindness. They don’t always run around angry at the world, in fact, you would be surprised at how happy they can be with the things other children take for granted. The right environment, with supportive people and adults who truly want the best for them, makes a big difference.

I’d like to tell you a story that we will always remember.

One cool Christmas morning, my husband watched a little boy ride his brand-new bicycle up and down the road in front of his cottage. My husband asked him how he liked the bike. The boy looked at him and asked when he was going to have to give it back. Confused, my husband asked what he meant. He explained that he thought he would have to share the bike with the other children. My husband told him that the bike was his, and his alone. That sweet child broke down in tears, sobbing uncontrollably, because he had never had a bike of his own. After a long hug, and eventually laughter, the boy jumped back on his bike and rode around with incredible enthusiasm and a smile that took over his entire face.

This is the flip side of foster care. This is the side that many people don’t hear about.

There’s another part to this story. It’s the part that you get to experience many years down the road, when your phone rings and an adult asks if you remember him, and if your wife still makes the best pancakes ever. This is the part of the story when you find out they have a family of their own, a good job, and when tears start forming because that child who used to drive you crazy with screaming fits, and who used to run down the road cursing you and the world, calls to say thank you for never giving up. This is part that makes sense, this is the day you hope and pray will eventually come.

It is time to realize that one day these forgotten children will become adults. Who is going to guide them and show them what it means to take care of their own families? Do you really want them to rely on the example they were given by their own parents? They must know what it’s like to have someone genuinely care for them, to show them boundaries, responsibility, and what it looks like to take care of a family.

This is the reason why we need to put the CARE back into foster care.

About the Authors:
James and Angela WalshJames and Angela Walsh are the program directors at a home for girls in need in the Houston area.  Through an alliance between Imagine Foundation for Kids, Stevens and Pruett Ranch, and Azleway Children’s Services, a commitment has been made to create homes and therapeutic communities for kids who need families. The #Houston area girls ranch is the first in this venture, and is in the final stages before the doors will be opened for girls who need a family. Through intense training, education, and experienced staff, children will find the families and support they need to heal and find hope again. If you would like to help #support this cause, please consider making a #donation to any one of these foundations, any amount is greatly appreciated and needed. Thank you for taking the time to read this article, and please continue to pray for all of us as we move forward to help kids in need.
www.imaginefoundationforkids.org
www.stevensandpruettranch.com
www.azleway.org

The Magic Bond

There’s something about horses and girls.   A bond that’s unspoken.  A trust, a love, a magic bond.   Something even more magical happens when a horse is paired with a child from the foster care system.   Here’s a story you need to watch, and it’s a great example of why we’re so excited to see the ranch in Houston open soon!! 

Watch this –> WFAA news story

Advocacy For Kids Begins Here

Advocacy For Kids Begins Here- written by Sharon Roubinek: Founder/CEO of Imagine Foundation For Kids

What defines the word “advocate”?

An advocate is “A person who champions support or recommends a particular cause or policy” as defined by the dictionary.  I also like the words, recommend, prescribe, advise, urge, and would like to add the word “fight” on behalf of children.

As most of you know, I am an advocate!  When it comes to the safety, well-being, and lives of the children hurting in our society today, I find myself more than an advocate.

I believe that most who know me, know I am a fighter! I fight on behalf of the parents, adopted prospective parents, as well as the adopted parents. No, I am not a CPS worker, even though I do know some excellent ones. Unfortunately, I have recently become acquainted with some that are not so excellent. However, that is a story for another day!

Today, I would like to tell you a true story going on right now, as I am writing this as an advocate for four children and their soon to be adopted mothers. 

My phone rang over a year ago from a dear friend who asked me if I could help a family that seems to have “no hope” of a solution. You see, two mothers seeking adoption of two sets of identical twins had willingly, several years ago, allowed CPS to place these children into their homes.

The two separate Moms, at the time, had no idea the set of twins they took into their homes were actually siblings with placement not too far from each other. When they finally learned of the situation, they became in touch and have regularly kept “play dates”scheduled for the siblings. These children are thriving in their respective homes. They are very well cared for and loved, as well as nurtured.

When CPS dropped them off at their respective homes, they proceeded to file criminal charges of neglect, as well as sexual abuse, of all four babies. You see, the biological mother of these children is a drug addict, as well as many other things, including dealing in drugs. She is the mother of eight children that she has NEVER cared for or provided for in her lifetime. The older four were taken early on, as well.

I have been actively working on the legal adoption of these children to their adoptive families. In the course of trying to make sense of what happened since CPS dropped them off, the following things have happened:

  • CPS never stayed in the transition to make sure these children had what they needed and deserved with respect to social services, insurance benefits, educational benefits, as well as other deserving benefits.
  • CPS arranged for the biological “Mother” to sign what is basically a permission slip to stay with these two families that have always wanted to legally adopt them from the moment they showed up on their doorstep.
  • When CPS could not find the biological mother to take her to court in the criminal case, which was substantial, they chose to drop the case because “they could not find her”.
  • We immediately began to call CPS to speak with the caseworker involved. We later found out that she is facing two criminal charges as I write this and still has not been before the court.

There is much more to this story! However, I wanted to lay the groundwork for an ongoing struggle that is outrageous and would love to hear your opinion.

What if I told you that for all these years the biological mother has declared to the IRS that these children were all dependent’s on her return? (She has never really held down a job, so I find that interesting) What if I told you that she applied for every social service known to man for herself, and these children, including Medicaid? What if I told you that the fraud upon the taxpayers has been reported three times to them and they have done nothing?! None of the eight children have ever been in her care for any length of time. One of the older children was picked up in a crack house with the biological mom dealing. Maybe I am wrong….maybe the government does require you to report drug dealing income on their returns as well as other sources of income.

What if I told you that the families with these children in care cannot even get insurance on them under another policy because CPS dropped the ball and did not get the termination of the rights of the mother in place so the adoptions could move forward, making it impossible for them to be insured without an adoption certificate?

What if I told you that the biological mother continues to taunt the adoptive mothers and the families about going to daycare and getting her kids?! And yet, CPS could not find her. I don’t know because I am thinking about the line in so many movies, I have lost count for someone to show up with a brain and follow the money! She has received her Medicaid income that all of us are supporting!

These children and their wonderful families have suffered long enough! Shame on CPS for dropping kids on the doorsteps of these families and walking away, leaving all of them in the lurch! Yes, I am an advocate for them, and I will continue to get the message out.

Now, I need your help! Please sign a petition, make comments, or references to anyone that you know that can possibly help us get this situation under control. Trust me, I am not done! These families and these beautiful children need peace in their lives. They are scared to death that their biological Mom will simply show up and take them away. The fathers of the children are not even in the picture.

I am focusing on Medicaid taking action, for giving the biological Mom benefits she does not deserve, and these children struggling for the benefits they deserve. Most of us would be sitting in a federal penitentiary for such acts. I am focusing on the termination of parental rights that would enable these Moms to adopt these sweet and amazing children.

Please help me in standing up and being a voice for these children, and so many others, that have had their innocence stripped away, and continue to be victims to a system that is turning a blind eye.

Thank you for your time and any suggestions or help in this matter.

Sharon Roubinek-  Founder/CEO:  Imagine Foundation For Kids

Founder- Sharon Roubinek